As some of you may have noticed through the dishes I review and cook on this blog I don't eat meat. In particular I haven't had any meat apart from chicken since I was 12 years old. I am at this point not going to go into a massive speech about how that decision was about animal rights (which of course is a very valid reason) nor will I try and preach to you and try and force you into doing the same.
I gave up meat because I simply didn't like the taste. Many childhood meals in fact featured me covering a rather expensive steak in ketchup to horror of my meat loving mum. I don't miss eating bacon or salami neither do I judge someone eating it in front of me. Eat what makes you and your body feel good, something that can change and alter as you grow up and depending on your life situation and how happy you are. I had a few years of eating chicken as my body craved it and only ate it when done well ( not fried but more of the rotisserie kind at Chicken shop or freshly grilled in a Turkish shish wrap) yet have recently once again gone completely back to just eating fish. Could I be fully vegetarian? I could if I was ethically commit enough or if my body suddenly stopped occasionally craving smoked salmon, sushi and prawns ( and boy do I love all three), so I guess for now I am a happy pescatarian.
Have those, one could argue self imposed, limitations meant I eat boring food and miss out on eating out? Well as you know from my numerous restaurant reviews there are plenty of alternatives, fish or veggie based, especially in London and I think a great restaurant or home cook proves its or his and hers credentials even further by not serving you up a bloody risotto or stuffed pepper as default veggie dish.
In fact vegetables can be one of the most versatile and tasty things to cook which is why me and my flatmate set out to cook quite the feast with a collection of recipes found where else but Pinterest. Meat eater, pescatarian, vegetarian or even vegan ( just leave out or substitute the creamy bits and halloumi)- I hope you try some of these dishes and love the flavours because that is what food is for - enjoyment! Listen to your body and eat what makes you happy and sometimes try something out of your comfort zone but don't judge before you try. It doesn't always have to involve meat to be a delicious meal.
Baked Aubergine With Buttermilk Sauce
One of Yotam Ottolenghi's signature dishes, this a not only visually stunning but utterly delicious and surprisingly easy way to prepare aubergines. With the sweetness from the pomegranate seeds, deep herbiness from the za'taar spice mix (a must to have in your kitchen anyway and available at most Turkish greengrocers) and the charred earthiness of the aubergine, this is pretty much as sexy as a vegetable dish is ever going to get!
I adore sweet potatoes. They are so versatile, way more tasty than a normal potato and also good for you! I make them weekly as part of my roast veg (amongst my friends known as my infamous and slightly weird dish of choice when suffering from a hangover) but have struggled to find a recipe that makes them crunchy and chip like without the not so good for you deep frying. This recipe worked a treat by coating them in flour beforehand and also had an amazing recipe for a super easy and fresh garlic mayo to go with them. We basically inhaled these and I have a feeling this will become one of those staple recipes whenever we have a spare sweet p knocking around.
Another Ottolenghi recipe, this one combines my favourite veg asparagus, chargrilled here for extra flavour (nothing worse than people boiling them to nothing but a mushy mess), with a tangy basil garlic oil. slow roast baby tomatoes, ribbons of courgette and halloumi. Combined, this tastes like sunshine on a plate, full of Mediterranean fresh flavours that made us forget about the gloomy November evening outside and was once again super easy and quick to prepare!